Quick Bites: Chodang Soon Tofu, Khau Gully, La Paloma

Chodang Soon Tofu
Kimchee soon tofu bowl at Chodang Soon Tofu

I’ve written about this place a couple of times before, both for this blog and another one, which is why I’m not bothering with a full post for this particular meal.  But I feel obligated to point out that Chodang Soon Tofu is still great; their namesake dish, a seriously delicious and hearty bowl of stew crammed with creamy tofu, is as vibrant and amazing as ever.  If you’re even remotely in the area, don’t miss this place; it’s a gem.

Khau Gully
Various dishes at Khau Gully

I tried a handful of dishes at Khau Gully, a delightful Indian restaurant just south of Yonge and Eglinton.  Nothing particularly knocked my socks off, but everything was solid.  In particular, the nimbu dhaniya murg featured tender chunks of chicken in a deliciously zippy sauce, and the awadhi subzi featured nicely cooked veggies in a very creamy, tasty sauce.  The kulfi is also worth checking out.  If you’ve never had kulfi before, it has a unique richness that makes it feel pretty distinct from traditional ice cream.

La Paloma
Zuppa Inglese at La Paloma

If I’m trying a gelato place for the first time, I’m probably going to pick a simple flavour like pistachio or stracciatella to gauge the quality of the ice cream.  But if it’s a place I’m familiar with, all bets are off; I’m instantly drawn to odder flavours I might not have tried before.  And I can’t say I’ve ever had a gelato flavour quite like the Zuppa Inglese at La Paloma: “English trifle with layers of cranberries, orange zest and our homemade sponge cake.”  It absolutely nails the trifle flavour, with the fruity/cakey/custardy taste shining through.  It’s also got that in-your-face booziness that you’ll often find in Italian desserts; this is a bit of an acquired taste (and it’s not my favourite thing in the world), but I don’t mind it.  The gelato itself was a bit icy, but this was otherwise a top-notch flavour.

Solid Texas BBQ at Adamson Barbecue

Adamson BarbecueLocation: 15195 Yonge Street, Aurora
Website: https://adamsonbarbecue.com/

Though restaurants serving Texas-style BBQ have become a dime a dozen in the GTA, Adamson was among the first in that trend, and if you ask pretty much anybody, they’re the best.

I tried it once a couple of years ago, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t convinced.  I found the food to be tasty enough, but it was hampered by some fairly serious issues (most pressingly: a complete lack of smoky flavour, improperly sliced brisket, and mediocre pulled pork).

Well, I just tried their new Aurora location, and it was (mostly) a much, much better experience.

Adamson Barbecue

I will say that ordering take-out is probably not the best way to go (though it is, for obvious reasons, the only way to go right now).  When you pre-order on their website, all the meats come tightly wrapped in butcher paper, and the whole thing is sealed in a foil take-out container.  You also can’t specify a pick-up time other than before or after 4:00 PM.  This means that the meat effectively continues to cook in the tray, and is a bit more dry than it should be by the time you eat it.

Even still, it was quite tasty.  I tried basically everything on the menu: beef brisket, spare ribs, turkey breast, pulled pork, and a couple of sausages (bratwurst and jalapeno cheddar).

The brisket is their claim to fame, and yeah, it’s very good.  It could have been more tender (see: the aforementioned take-out issue), but it was otherwise top-shelf brisket.  It was quite smoky, it had a good amount of tender fat (the fat wasn’t quite as well rendered as you’d like, but that’s a minor complaint — it was mostly very creamy), and the bark was really tasty.  Texas-style barbecue is traditionally seasoned with just salt and pepper, and while it tasted like there might have been a bit more going on here, it was quite good.

Adamson Barbecue

Everything else was (mostly) really tasty.  The turkey was smoky and tender, the ribs had a great texture and more of that delightful smoke flavour (though they did taste a bit over-brined), and both sausages were top-notch, particularly the jalapeno cheddar.

The pulled pork was even worse than I remembered it, however.  It was incredibly dry, it had zero smoky flavour, and it had that underlying gaminess that you only get from pork that’s been reheated one time too many.  I’d be absolutely shocked if it was cooked the same day I ate it.

I also tried the baked beans and the coleslaw, and while neither was anything to get too excited about (the baked beans tasted more like some kind of bean stew than like traditional baked beans), but they were both tasty enough.

Amazing Lamb and Rice at Mandi Afandi

Mandi AfandiLocation: 5120 Dixie Road, Mississauga
Website: https://www.mandiafandi.ca/

I’ll admit that I was skeptical about Mandi Afandi.  The spot they’re in formerly housed a Popeyes Chicken; since it closed down in 2013, that location has been home to a revolving door of failed restaurants.  The last one — Mandilicious — also specialized in mandi.  I didn’t have high hopes for what I assumed would be the latest in a string of shuttered eateries.

But then Suresh Doss highlighted the place in his column for CBC, and of course, I had to sit up and take notice.  If Doss writes about a restaurant, you can be reasonably assured that the food will be tasty.

Mandi Afandi

They have a handful of things on the menu, but of course, mandi — a traditional Yemini dish which features slow-cooked meat and rice — is right there in the name.  They serve it with either lamb, chicken, or both.

I tried the lamb.  Even with the Doss seal of approval, I was still fairly skeptical about the place, and I could not have been more wrong.  It was shockingly delicious.

The lamb is delightfully tender and absolutely crammed with flavour from the spices they cook it with and the meat itself.  I love lamb, and this is some of the best I’ve had in a long time.

Mandi Afandi

You’d think that the rice would take a backseat to the meat, but surprisingly enough, it’s just as good.  You can tell its been cooked with the meat because its infused with that flavour, and it’s fragrant with the same delightful spices that make the lamb so tasty.

The crispy fried onions only amp up the flavour, and add a nice textural counterpoint to the tender lamb and fluffy rice.  You also get little containers of yogurt sauce and hot sauce on the side, and while neither are particularly necessary (it’s already so damn good on its own), they both compliment the dish quite well.

Delicious Doughnuts at Daddy O Doughnuts

Daddy O Doughnuts
Daddy O Doughnuts

Location: 589 North Service Road, Mississauga
Website: https://www.daddyodoughnuts.com/

Is there anything more beautiful than a big box full of doughnuts?  I submit that there is not.  Can I eat an amazing sunset?  Is a great piece of art glazed with sugar?  Are any of the wonders of the world filled with chocolate or jam?  No?  Well then they’re all inferior to a box of doughnuts.  Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

Daddy O Doughnuts

I brought this box to a friend’s house (back when seeing friends was still a thing) and, between the four of us, we managed to try every single one, so suffice it to say I was all doughnuted out by the time we were done.  But in the best way.

I’m not going to bother to go through it doughnut by doughnut, mostly because I don’t feel like it but also because there wasn’t a dud in the bunch.  They were all very tasty, so it’s safe to say that you can’t go wrong with whatever you pick at Daddy O Doughnuts.

Daddy O Doughnuts

I will say that a couple of these were cake doughnuts and the rest were classic raised doughnuts, and I was surprised to discover that I preferred the former.  The raised doughnuts were very good too, but they were a little bit dense and didn’t quite have the personality that you’ll find in the best of the best.  Still, the flavours were all so delicious that it’s hard to complain too much.

Tasty Jerk Chicken at Roywoods

RoywoodsLocation: 65 Front Street West, Toronto (inside Union Station)
Website: https://roywoods.ca/

It’s been a while since I’ve had a sandwich from Toronto Life’s list of the 25 best in the city, but clearly, the list is still cranking out the hits.  The jerk chicken sandwich at Roywoods is good eatin’.

Roywoods

It’s quite simple: cocoa bread, jerk chicken, coleslaw, sliced tomato, and onion (I skipped the onion, because raw onions are the worst and why anyone thinks differently will forever baffle me).

You can’t really tell from the picture, but the jerk chicken is abundant, and it’s perfectly cooked.  I wish it were a bit spicier (it has a mild kick, but not much more than that) but the satisfying jerk flavour makes up for the lack of spice.

Roywoods

The only real issue is the slightly stale cocoa bread, but there was so much moisture from the saucy coleslaw and the juicy chicken that the dryness of the bread was just barely an issue.  Eating it is definitely a multiple napkin experience.

Roywoods

I tried a couple of sides as well.  The fried plantains had a nice combo of crispy and creamy, and the callaloo — featuring flavourful, tender greens — was just as good.